Farmer, businessman. Rogers was born to a prominent planter family near Mars Bluff on March 26, 1857. He received a private education in Charleston and returned to Mars Bluff to manage his family’s agrarian interests. By the mid-1880s cotton prices had fallen to 8¢ a pound. Dismayed by the poor prospects for cotton, Rogers began experimenting with bright leaf (flue-cured) tobacco. Relying heavily on printed instructions, Rogers planted three acres of Orinoco tobacco and built a log barn to cure his crop. His tobacco profits were more than ten times greater per acre than returns for cotton at prevailing prices.
Rogers publicized his success in area newspapers and encouraged others to plant tobacco. He recruited young men from the North Carolina–Virginia tobacco belt to advise and instruct novice growers in cultivating and curing the new crop. In 1885 Rogers began corresponding with Francis W. Dawson, editor of the Charleston News and Courier. Citing Rogers’s success, the paper urged South Carolina farmers to reduce their cotton acreage in favor of bright leaf. Aware that further expansion of tobacco culture was hindered by the lack of local markets, Rogers led a group of area businessmen to found the state’s first bright leaf market in Florence in 1891. Rogers remained active in agribusiness affairs until his death on June 9, 1945. He was buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Florence.
Prince, Eldred E., and Robert R. Simpson. Long Green: The Rise and Fall of Tobacco in South Carolina. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000.
Rogers, F. M. Papers. Darlington County Historical Commission, Darlington, South Carolina.